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St. Paul third-graders dig in to promote ‘Adopt-a-Hydrant’ program

Seven boys from St. Anthony Park Elementary School are promoting the hydrant program, and shoveling out hydrants themselves.

Let to right: Gunnar Jacobson, Sam Skinner, Alexander Kamenov, Soren Sackreiter, Milo Fleming, Jude Breen, and Ian Culver.
Photo by Lisa Sackreiter

A group of third-graders in St. Paul have their shoveling work cut out this week.

Sure, we hope they were helping to clear the family driveways and sidewalks after the big snowstorm, but these seven St. Anthony Park Elementary School students were also out Tuesday afternoon scooping snow away from city fire hydrants in their neighborhoods.

They call themselves the Hoppity Hats, and their Destination Imagination project at school is not only to clean out buried hydrants themselves, but also to get others to do it, using the Adopt-a-Hydrant program.

They’ve met with fire department officials, who’ve endorsed their efforts to publicize the program with press releases and fliers. They’re working on a video, too.

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The boys are: Gunnar Jacobson, Sam Skinner, Alexander Kamenov, Soren Sackreiter, Milo Fleming, Jude Breen and Ian Culver. Parents Lisa Sackreiter and Marc Culver are team managers.

They make up one of their school’s 14 teams in the school’s Destination Imagination program — coordinated by fourth-grade teacher Nancy Hausman — which lets student teams solve challenges and  present their solutions at tournaments.

The Hoppity Hats are working on the DI “Real to Reel” challenge, where they are required to identify a community need, work to address the need, make a movie about what they’ve done, and prepare for a press conference. They’ll present their solution at the state competition in April.  

The Hoppity Hats, who even have a blog, and created a Facebook page for their project, chose the Adopt-a-Hydrant program because they liked the web-based technology, which Twin Cities residents can use to choose their hydrant, said Lisa Sackreiter.

Some comments from the kids:

 Soren Sackreiter:

“We wanted to choose a project that didn’t just affect just our St. Anthony Park community but the Twin Cities community.”  

Ian Culver: 

“We can help more than one community in one challenge. Maybe other cities will start using the website in Minnesota or even around the country. We thought if we can help more than one community it will help many more people.”

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Alexander Kamenov:

“It’s important to help the fire department and the community because they help us when we need them.”

Sam Skinner:
“I chose the project because I knew it could help the community and create happy insurance companies.”

The team is shooting footage for its Public Service Announcement video, and has already prepared this press release, which we received at MinnPost:

The Hoppity Hats, a Destination Imagination (DI) team at St. Anthony Park Elementary School, wants YOU to help the community by maintaining access to fire hydrants. The 3rd grade DI team focuses on encouraging people to adopt a fire hydrant by going to

Where the weather is wacky, like Minnesota, hydrants get covered in snow and become difficult to access. According the St. Paul Fire Department, it takes 5-6 minutes to dig out a snow-covered hydrant.  Fires can double every 30 seconds.

That means a fire can double 10-12 times in the amount of time it takes to dig out a hydrant.

If you are interested in adopting a hydrant, go to Once you log on, find a hydrant or two near your home and adopt it! Then, you can name your hydrant. The website will e-mail you after snowfalls to remind you to clear your hydrant.  There are about 18,360 fire hydrants in the Twin Cities. Fewer than 100 of them are adopted. Now let`s go help the community!

The St. Paul Fire Department is whole-heartedly behind the program, and has even made it’s own Adopt-a-Hydrant video.

Fire Capt. Rick Zech said that it’s important for everyone’s safety to have the hydrants clear when the fire rigs arrive at a fire: “Every minute we have to spend digging out a hydrant is a minute we’re not fighting the fire,” he said.